Reports: Chelsea set to rival Tottenham for Premier League playmaker
Chelsea are looking to bolster their midfield
What's the story?
Chelsea are looking to add depth to their midfield and have now picked out Tottenham target Ross Barkley, as the solution to their problems, according to The Sun.
The midfielder, who tore his hamstring in training, will not be available for 3 months but Conte still believes that he will be a bargain and help save Chelsea from spending big on foreign players.
In case you didn't know...
Ross Barkley refused to sign a new contract at Everton, and Spurs have been cautiously pursuing him ever since.
Everton had valued the player at a whopping £50m but his potential suitors were not willing to pay so much for a player who has only 12 months left on his contract.
Spurs are ready to offer £20m as the initial fee and £8m as add-ons but will now face stiff competition from Chelsea who are ready to table a bid of their own.
The heart of the matter
Chelsea have been monitoring Ross Barkley for quite a while now, and have always looked at the Englishman as a long-term signing. The Blues have had problems in the midfield and this past Sunday, David Luiz had to take up midfield duties due to a lack of alternatives.
Antonio Conte's side let go of Nemanja Matic to Manchester United and are now trying to sign Danny Drinkwater from Leicester. However, the Ross Barkley move is not contingent on the Drinkwater deal.
Everton had lowered their asking price for Barkley from £50m to £30m but will have to lower it further now that Barkley has picked up an injury and will miss 3 more months.
Mauricio Pochettino has a penchant for molding young English talent and this could trigger Barkley to choose a move to Spurs. However, Tottenham's rigid wage structure could prove to be a stumbling block as Barkley will only get £100,000 a week at best.
The 23-year-old was offered a new contract at Goodison Park with £110,000 as his weekly wages but he had turned the offer down. Chelsea will be ready to pay above that and this could motivate Barkley to choose Stamford Bridge over Wembley.
Pochettino and Conte doesn't quite have a number of options on their bench as they would like. Barkley, at 23, has the lion's share of his career ahead of him. He has shown real promise at Everton though the previous season was a bit of a letdown.
However, a move to Spurs or Chelsea could prove to be a turning point in his career as the Englishman would finally get to be part of a side that's contesting for the title.